When it comes to getting started with search engine optimization, it is often pre-assumed that the marketers are clear with their basics of search engines and how they operate.
The most common misconception seen amongst many beginners and intermediate SEOs is considering both keywords and search queries the same and using them interchangeably.
There lies a very thin difference between the two when considered from a search engine’s perspective.
Let us put some more light on both the terms step by step and know the exact difference between them.
What are Search Queries?
A Search Query is a term or a group of terms which a web user enters into the search bar and requests information i.e SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for it, from the search engine.
These group of words are often misspelt, out of order, or may be stacked up with other words.
What are Keywords?
A Keyword is the exact term which a SEO targets when writing a blog post or bid against in the Pay Per Click Campaign to get our site ranked for that particular keyword.
Note that the search engine users have nothing to do with keywords, and neither they should be bothered about it, since what they use are “queries”.Keywords are what SEO's struggle to rank for, because of their ineffective or outdated strategies of keyword targeting.Click To Tweet
Hard Facts: Keywords are what SEO’s struggle to rank for, because of their ineffective or outdated strategies of keyword targeting. I don’t mean to say that you are wrong, neither am I saying that all search marketers find it difficult to get their sites/posts ranked on Google. There are many who do their job exceptionally well, using the right strategies and right approach.
Ok! Now what? What’s the Big Deal?
It seems pretty easy understanding both the terms. But my point of discussion is not this.
The Real Point of discussion is to unveil the difference between keywords and search queries which is still not clear to many of so-called “SEO Experts”.
Dealing the Scary Misconception
Yes! It is indeed very scary if you are dealing with such a confusion.
Moreover, if you are running a Pay Per Click campaign with that misconception in the head, you might not be able to get the desired results and may end up blowing your advertising budget.
Here is why:
A keyword is conceptually a broader term as it can be viewed in two forms from a search marketer’s perspective:
- Keyword targeting for organic search visibility.
- Bidding on keywords in Pay Per Click(PPC) Campaigns.
Keyword targeting can make or even badly break your paid marketing campaigns depending upon how you map what your users search for (i.e Queries), to what you want to target (i.e keywords).
If you go with choosing a highly competitive single word keyword, you may have to pay thousands of dollars to get listed on the top paid results on Google.
Keyword Targeting For Organic Search
Before writing your SEO optimized content for the topic of your choice, every blogger or marketer must do some keyword research so as to get sufficient organic traffic for those search terms.
Most of the bloggers are targeting long tail keywords to get ranked better in SERPs.
This is probably because targeting highly competitive one-word or two-word keywords might not get you to rank on the very 1st page on Google easily, unless and until you have the most relevant and valuable content according to Google Ranking Algorithm.
Also, there are high risks of your rankings to show a dip to lower positions if your content is not optimized since the competition is fierce for single word keywords.
Pro Tip : Targeting Long Tail keywords can get you better rankings in organic search.
For instance if you want to get some keyword ideas for the keyword “men’s trousers” , then assuming that you have selected to show broad match keywords in Google keyword planner, the terms “mens trousers online” , “trousers for men” ,etc. will be the Search Queries .
A post on WordStream Blog says “Search Queries are real world application of Keywords”.
Bidding For Profitable Keywords In PPC Campaigns
A profitable keyword is one which has high average search volume with less competition and lower bids.
Most of the marketers now-a-days use long tail keywords for ranking high on search engines.
Reason ?Long tail keywords are less competitive and generate 100% targeted traffic to the website.Click To Tweet
Distribution of Paid Clicks by Position and Rank
When it comes to getting keyword ideas, Google Keyword Planner is one of the Best Free Keyword Research Tool on the web.
SEMRush is another tool which I strongly recommend.
(Update : Since Google has started showing search volume in ranges rather than the exact search volumes. The exact search volume of keywords are only visible to advertisers who have active campaigns running on adwords.).
I found SEMRush a very effective tool for keyword analysis of any website or competitor’s site analysis.
The Difference between a Search Query and a Keyword is very tenuous and subtle.
But it is very important for every marketer to understand this basic difference between both; so that you are clear with the elementary school SEO Basics. I am not trying to insult anyone, but making a generous effort to help others who didn’t knew about it.
Did you know this little difference before? Let me know your thought on this in the comments below.